President Mauricio Macri on Tango 1, the presidential plane. Photo via La Política Online

President Mauricio Macri will be traveling to Chile, Belgium and Germany over the next few weeks at attend a summit with the Pacific Alliance, a trade bloc comprising Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru as permanent members; negotiate with the European Union; and attend a bilateral meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Macri will leave Argentina on Thursday and return in time to celebrate Argentina’s Independence Day on July 9th.

First stop: Chile, where Argentina will be present at the Pacific Alliance summit. In addition to the four permanent members, the Alliance also includes 42 observer countries that are allowed to take part in seminars and trade forums in order to gain a better understanding of the Alliance. The US joined as an observer back in 2013.

On Thursday, Macri will be meeting 300 businessmen from the different member states of the Pacific Alliance and on Friday he will be at the Presidential summit of the Pacific Alliance in Puerto Varas.

Argentina is currently a member of economic trade bloc Mercosur (comprised of Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela) and Macri explicitly wants the Pacific Alliance and Mercosur to cooperate, uniting them in the long term in order to create a joint economic trade agreement strategy. In fact, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Mexico are associate and supervising states of Mercosur.

The full member countries of the Pacific Alliance. Photo via Nesta.
The full member countries of the Pacific Alliance. Photo via Nesta.

Macri’s efforts to forge closer ties with the Pacific Alliance is a 180 pivot from former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s policy, as she sought to avoid any agreements with it because it was perceived as center-right focused and too closely aligned with the US.

The Pacific Alliance was formed in 2011 to promote the free circulation of goods, services, capital and people, with particular focus on the Asia-Pacific region. One of the requirements to become a full member is that countries have free trade agreements with all other members. In 2014, the bloc eliminated 92 percent of tariffs between member countries and is planning on phasing out the remaining 8 percent of tariffs over a seven-year period.

After Chile, Macri will be heading to Brussels to the European Union HQ. The objective is to amend Mercosur’s failure to negotiate a viable trade agreement with the European Union and initiate negotiations as well as improve bilateral relations with the EU.

Last week, draft proposals to liberate trade movement between Mercosur and the EU were made public (they had been submitted a month beforehand). The EU has proposed to deduct 90 percent of its import taxes from Mercosur within the next 10 years, while Mercosur hopes to reach this target within 15 years.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Mauricio Macri. Photo via Argentina Noticias
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Mauricio Macri. Photo via Argentina Noticias

Macri will be meeting the head of the European Council, Donald Tusk, with the interesting backdrop of the recent Brexit, or Great Britain’s decision to leave the European Union after voting out in a referendum.

Finally, on the 4th and 5th of July, Macri will be in Berlin for a State visit in which he will see Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as the CEOs of German companies like Mercedes Benz, Siemens and Volkswagen in a bid to attract investment.

After all that, Macri will return to Argentina in time to celebrate Argentina’s Independence Day Bicentenary. He will hold a vigil on July 8th in Humahuaca, Jujuy Province, and then go to Tucumán on July 9th to the place where the Declaration was signed 200 years ago.